01/03/2014 12:02 EST | Updated 03/05/2014 05:59 EST

Rob Ford Refused Advice To Declare Ice Storm An Emergency


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford turned down appeals from city officials to declare a state of emergency even though hundreds of thousands of residents were without power after a brutal pre-Christmas ice storm. 

In an email leaked to the press on Friday, deputy city manager John Livey wrote that he directly asked the mayor to call a state of emergency. 

"We are getting ready to ask the mayor to declare this an emergency largely because it will assist the staff at the province to make resources available to us, crews, generators, facilities for warming centres," he wrote in a letter dated Dec. 22, at 5:02 p.m. That was less than 24 hours after the storm impacted electricity to a substantial number of Toronto Hydro customers.

Ford ignored the recommendation, saying there was "no reason" to call the ice storm an emergency.

The mayor had some support from council on that decision. "I don’t think declaring a state of emergency is going to make the electricity go on any quicker, or our furnaces turn on any faster," Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, said on Dec. 23.

Other councillors debated the decision.

Joe Mihevc, councillor for St. Paul's West, an area hit by power outages, called the decision not to declare an emergency "regrettable."

"We could've acted more quickly calling an emergency right off the bat," he said.

According to the City of Toronto Emergency Plan, there are three levels of emergency. The third and most severe level is declared in a situation that: 

- Poses a danger of major proportions to life and property. 

- Threatens social order and ability to govern.

- When a declaration of an emergency is made by another level of government. 

The plan defines an emergency as "a situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise." 

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